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How To Brainstorm Domain Names

How To Brainstorm Domain Names
How To Brainstorm Domain Names

If you’re in the business of creating websites and registering domain names you will have encountered the all important question: What do we call it?

When starting a business, now-a-days, thinking of a name that could be registered as a domain is very important [if you will operate a lot on the web]. That said, availability of a name shouldn’t compromise what you are actually trying to achieve with the name.

First of all I’ll draw on Chris Garrett’s post on choosing domain names [see How To Choose A Domain Name]. He identifies some pitfalls of domain name branding and what you should be looking for when choosing one:

  • How original and unique is it?
  • How descriptive is it?
  • What image does it convey?
  • Would you remember it after seeing it once?
  • Could you spell it after hearing it once?
  • Conveniently, those points are pretty much in the correct order for brainstorming names.

    First find one that’s available, then discuss whether it works or not. Does it say what you want? Are there negative images or ideas associated that don’t fit? Is it memorable and easy for new users to find after maybe hearing about it in conversation?

    Brainstorm

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    I think the first rule for brainstorming is having a partner. A second opinion is crucial for weeding out what you think might sound good at first but really isn’t right. This is almost like instantly having that realization when you think of an idea, walk away, and then come back to it later.

    Before beginning some guidelines should be laid out. That is, what you are looking for in the name, keywords, length and general ideas associated. This should be kept pretty general and not strictly adhered to if necessary. That way new and better ideas can come up.

    Throwing ideas at each other can be done in two manners:

    1. The first is the no-critique approach where no idea is too dumb and everything gets written down. After which you revise the list and whittle it down to only the good stuff.

    From there you cut more and more until you have the name. If no resolution is found, you do it all over again – eventually the right name will come.

    2. The second method is more of a conversation and, I think, works best for domain registrations. With each name a snap judgment should be made. Making quick decisions is perfect because domain names are your first point of contact and, generally for branding purposes, should make a good first impression.

    What’s great about working with a partner and just throwing ideas at each other is, usually, a name will come up that both parties instantly agree on. It’s a zen sort of moment when nothing is said for a second and everyone is in. Like most idea generation, when it happens you will know.

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    How To Brainstorm Domain Names

    Availability

    More important than anything when talking about domain names is availability. You can’t register something that’s already registered, so brainstorming is important. While brainstorming name ideas there are a few tools that will help.

    Using instant domain searches are great because they provide instant notification when a domain name is unavailable. This is important when brainstorming because you can instantly have an idea shut down and move on to the next. This saves a lot of time.

    One’s I’ve used are InstantDomainSearch.com and AjaxDomainSearch.com which work fine, but my preference is AjaxWhois.com for one reason.

    AjaxWhois stands out because of it’s Favoriting feature. When you come across a name that works and is available [your maybe’s] you can save them on the site for future reference.

    To Note

    I have found that sometimes when one of these fast domain searches say a domain is available you will later find, when attempting to register, that it isn’t.

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    In which case it’s a good idea to have your host or where ever you register your domains open as well so you can check the ‘available’ domain names. This is just a case of double checking since, for some reason, those searches make mistakes.

    Ideas For The Future

    Darren Rowse brought up an interesting point about future-proofing your domain name and extending it’s use later down the line [see Choosing The Domain Name For Your Blog].

    For instance, you don’t want your site to look dated based on it’s name alone. Likewise, if your business [or blog] outgrows the limits of your domain how could you expand properly?

    Another ‘future factor’ to consider is how many blogs you’re thinking of starting on your domain. Take a look at About.com for an example of how it’s possible to have one domain with many blogs running off it. They blog ‘about’ hundreds of topics and have a domain name that suits this perfectly.

    Top Level Domains

    The benefit of sticking to a .com [instead of .net or .com.au etc] is standardization. When talking about your site and letting word of mouth and other marketing do it’s thing, having something that is easy and known works best.

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    When you mention to someone that you have speaker site about monitor speakers that is called Speaker Freaker, you don’t want to be correcting everyone that it’s actually a .net and not the, always assumed, .com.

    Also to consider is cost. In Australia a .com.au is much more expensive than a .com and requires a registered business number [ABN]. This is great for availability and recognition as a business, but bad for keeping the costs down and, generally, international appeal.

    Criteria

    I would group certain criteria to keep in mind when registering any domain name. These are as follows:

  • Availability – is it up for grabs?
  • Suitability – does it fit the business, content or target audience?
  • Memorability – can someone just hear about it and put it in their address bar without errors?
  • There is some leniency for the Suitability criteria. You may decide on a name that is almost completely unrelated to your business based on branding alone. Think of Nike or Darren’s example of BoingBoing.

    With this checklist and a good understanding of what you want the site to do, you should find that all elusive domain name to be easier to snatch than you think.

    More by this author

    Craig Childs

    Craig is an editor and web developer who writes about happiness and motivation at Lifehack

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

    More About Goals Setting

    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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